Other Transmissions: Conversations with Outsider Art
This exhibition brings together the work of six artists – Joe Beedles, James Desser, Amy Ellison, Frances Heap, Andrew Johnstone and John Powell-Jones, initially responding to The Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection (MKOAC), housed at the Whitworth. The MKOAC is the largest collection of 'Outsider Art' in a public gallery in the UK and features work by artists who are self-taught and have been historically marginalised from the art world. This year-long residency project was led by Venture Arts in collaboration with the Whitworth, and Castlefield Gallery. Elements of the work and new pieces by Blackpool artists, will go on display at Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (7-21 March 2020).
During the residency, a group of learning disabled, and non-learning disabled artists came together, on equal terms, to explore the themes of 'Outsider Art': labelling, categorisation and art world power dynamics. The artists spent time with the MKOAC, researching collection pieces and having conversations on how artists are labelled, and how this can sometimes define their work and themselves as 'different'. They spent three months in a shared studio space at Venture Arts producing diverse pieces of work spanning sound, film, live art, digital artwork, drawings and sculpture, as well as costume.
The artists selected artworks from the MKOAC, which they co-curated into a display alongside their own work. Collection artists featured include Madge Gill, Albert Louden and Michel Nedjar. The exhibition has originated from a 2018-19 project, Conversation Series II, which was a project led by Venture Arts in partnership with the Whitworth and Castlefield Gallery. Conversation Series II was the second part of a four-part programme, conceived by Venture Arts, and a wider network of national organisations including Castlefield Gallery. Castlefield Gallery's role throughout the Conversations Series has been to act as a critical friend and provided the artists with mentoring to encourage reflection at key stages. The programme extends across multiple years, curated as a discursive and art making journey designed to enable and empower learning disabled artists
14 February 2020 – 14 June 2020
Image: Andrew Johnstone, Untitled, 2019